Monday, 17 December 2012

Being an Author: Conclusions of the First Novel.

You who visit regularly will know I have just concluded my first novel.

It is now away with others who will read and judge it - those who will decide if I am to be a published novelist, or not.

So now I get to look back on the journey and see if the decisions I made were right, if the assumptions I made were wrong, and if 'writing my first novel' is to be the template for all future work, or a list a calamities, a log of mistakes... paths never to be re-trodden.

I can make a guess at that answer. I really can.

Plotting, Planning, and Generally Being Organized
Not the right pantsing...

In Part One (written after I hit problems at about 20K, a month after I started) I made accusations that The Author (me) had not planned the work, but had pantsed it. I cited that this was stupid, ranted perhaps, and that this work should be planned. It must be plotted.

I was right. It should. (I can't guarantee that I will take my own advice here, more fool me)

But it should not stop there. Since Part One I have learned to note and plot, plan and journal the work in progress.

Keep notes of what you've done, and more: WHY YOU'VE DONE IT.

These notes can and will become little nuances that can later be added in to round characters and events; make them interesting using real reasons - don't struggle to make up fake ones.

Don't Take a Four Month Sabbatical

This notion of planning and plotting became the point of Part Two also. FOUR MONTHS AND TEN THOUSAND WORDS LATER.

Part Three is about actually getting off your ass and writing. Lesson learned.

Part Three also heralded in the completion of draft one. I had, at this point, written the novel. Okay, it was a stinking pile of crap-shoot, written over a period of ten months or so. It made little sense even for a shlock horror, the characters were indefinable and the plot was winged. Clearly.

But it was finished.

So yeah, decide what you're going to write and write it. That's pretty much it as far as the first draft goes.

Then comes the pain.

Allow The Work Time To Breathe

Part Four begins with me returning to it, around a month after I had completed it. I was told to rest the novel like a fine wine, come back at it with fresh eyes.

Good idea? Yes.

After completion, perspective is addled. Wait. Wait to savor the novel.

Then hate it. Then hate yourself (Part Five). Then accept, and learn to love (Part Six).

Edit It To Death I: Cut It's Arms And Legs Off

Editing comes at a price. It is your sanity. It took me three drafts to actually look at (what I had left of) my novel and say, 'I think everything's going to be alright.'

So, did I strip out my darlings? Did I cull bits and pieces?

Yes. Yes I did. Once the novel is written you have to make it palatable for the audience. I did this. It was shorter when I'd finished. It's not just about 'killing your darlings' either.

A good line is: remove everything that doesn't move the plot forward.

Strip out the dream sequences that you thought were a good idea at the time, seek out the plot points that go nowhere. Delete them.

BACK IT UP ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME.     

Before you start editing make a copy of the whole. Once you begin - any major change (removal of a scene etc.) should incur the wrath of the backup monster. Slap a version number, a date, anything, on the filename, and archive it away.

Then backup your backup.

USB drives, other people computers, floppy disks (What?), anywhere that you don't use. No one likes to think about catastrophic failure, but if your laptop/computer explodes, how much work are you going to lose?

And once you've cut off all of the unnecessary bits? It's time to rebuild him.

Edit It To Death II: Building a better, stronger, story...

We can rebuild...
In Part Seven I started to put it back together again.I started to change my characters. I started to weave the plot. I made it interesting.

At this point I started to give my characters a voice that went with there actions. My psycho started to sound like an evil genius, rather than an accountant. 

Each of my characters found there own uniqueness. My hero became sentient. My villain, mischievous. 

I found it important to do this. It removed a lot of the 'bland' from the characters, and hence, the story.

By the end of Part Eight, it was a story. One I was starting to become proud of. 

Then, around Part Nine, I changed the narrative. I decided having read, written and re-written the damned thing, that the narrative was wrong (this makes sense when you know a little more about the story).

In order to make the 'mystery', the narrative should be - had to be - non-linear. 

It removed more 'bland'.

And then it was finished.

Opinions. The Novel Needs Opinions.

Before you start rushing around in the streets screaming, 'Look at me, I've got a novel for sale,' you'll need to get someone else to read it. Probably more than one. (Note: I only got one person to read mine because she really knows what she's doing. And no, I know I said this, but she's not in the basement.)

Getting someone elses opinion is really important before you start trying to sell it to potential publishers. (Self pubbing is a very different bag, but more on that later).

And once you've got their opinion, don't ignore it. 

They are not wrong. It is their opinion. If that is their opinion, then it will be others too. Don't dismiss the suggest that, 'maybe you should change chapter 4 - it's sort of sucky.' (hopefully they'll be more constructive than just saying sucky)

And then you need to sell it to someone. 

And that's a whole different problem...

'Til next time...



Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Being an Author: 2012 in review.

It's been one hell of a ride, this year. So much has happened. So much...

The writing has changed.

Mark Taylor:
The Human Condition
From 12 months ago, stylistically my writing has changed dramatically. I have 'The Human Condition' coming out soon from Wicked East Press. A book full of the woes of people. It is a dark insight into man, and the evil that man does.

I've just finished the novel 'Shutter Speed'. It is a look into the mind of a psychotic madman. Real world nasties.

I don't write like that all the time anymore.

I'm currently writing a horror comedy about Hell. And a collab about dark spiritualist magic. And one about vampires. I've got another collab simmering - dark fantasy.

But 'The Human Condition II - Human Behavior' is waiting. It's still there in the background.

And there's 'Small Cuts to the Psyche'. I'm never short of work.

I think the new writing is more fun. I'm certainly having more fun with it.

I've also learned a lot this year. My grammar has improved, believe it or not, but I'm still fighting the constant battle against commas. *waves fist*

The author has changed.

Me? Yeah. I'm not the man I once was. I guess that's why my writing has changed. I look at things differently now.

Sometimes you have to look around and just take a minute to smell the roses.

And speaking of roses, I've met my inspiration. She's my bacon. I won't embarrass her here, but she knows who she is, and, well, she's my everything.


Facebook:
join us...
I've stepped out of the shadows and done something I never thought I would. I joined Facebook. Social networking appears to largely consist of slightly deranged people screaming about very deranged things. I only planned to use it to interact with other writer's and those in this business (one way or the other). That didn't last very long.

I have met some awesome people there who - whether they realize it or not - have helped me greatly.

Without them I might not be writing this now.

Eden Royce will always have a special place in my heart. She has a wonderful way of writing and is a wonderful person. She has supported me and my work rigorously over the last few months. My novel would not be finished without her.

Dale Eldon may possibly be a genius. His constant support (and somewhat eerie cheerfulness) have helped me to continue. His forthcoming projects excite me (no, not like that), and he makes me think about what I'm doing, differently.

Rebecca Besser is quite, quite mad. But also a great writer. And a good friend. She tirelessly supports the art and can be an inspiration to all of us as a writer, editor, and all the other things she works at. I'm beginning to think that she has a time machine - there aren't enough hours in the day to do what she does.

There are too many other people to list, but so many people have supported me.

I'm now stronger.

These days my writing has got more fight... and a new bite.

I've got more fight.

Imminently I will unleash the new look of the blog. It's looked like this since the beginning and it's time to change. It needs to grow too. I currently welcome ten times the visitors I did six months ago, and that number grows each and every month.

A new face for 2013 to go with the new words.

'Til next time...



Sunday, 9 December 2012

Being an Author: Writing Your First Novel, Part 10

In a year that has seen more than a few changes (but more of that in my review of the year), it is done.

I have finished, edited, murdered, resurrected and slain it one last time. The novel is finished.

So before I bore you with the details of said novel I feel that I should make comment in an advicey sort of way.

What I've learned:

Once you've started, don't stop. Finish it. Write the damned novel.

Resenting it is part of the journey. Don't hate it because you resent it, use it. Learn from it.

Don't be alone. Talk to people. If you don't want to talk to writers about the work in progress just talk to them about other works.

Find a forum to vent on (No, not literally a forum - the admins get narky). This is mine.

They say write drunk, edit sober. They're lying. Writing drunk just causes you to have read it later, scratch your head and say, 'huh?'.

Focus on the work. Try not to change writing style in the middle. (I changed a lot over the time it took me to write it and the re-writes just to correct style took a while)

Edit it. A lot. I mean a lot.

Realize before you start that when it is written, there is still a lot to do.

So anyway, when I feel inclined to I'll do a whole summary thing post. Maybe point out things that I did wrong. There was a lot of that.

Let me introduce to you:

"Shutter Speed"

I'll do a whole blurb thing at some point, but basically a chiller, Shutter Speed is about a guy with a dual personality. He's bat-shit crazy. Well, half of him is. 

It is full of profoundly bad language, totally unnecessary 'hair curling' violence and battered frog's legs. And now I've finished, now the book is complete, I kinda like it. 

It is part of me now.

I suppose the summary post will be the last 'Writing Your First Novel'. Maybe I should do 'Writing Your Second Novel'? Hold on, I've already started that one.

By the way...

...know anyone that might want to publish a novel?

'Til next time...

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Lady Killer: A Review

Donald White: Lady Killer
I've just finished turning the pages on short, 'Lady Killer' by Donald White.

It is not what I expected.

The narrative and pacing of the story remind me of an old 'tec noir. The 'lone voice in the head' type of exposition.

But it is chilling.

The voice that you are listening to - the voice that we all imagine to be our own - is that of 'Rick'. Rick is a killer. The way Donald White has tailored the tale, the reader is unsure of the motives - and practices - of Rick until the story unfolds. It is a very clever example of story telling.

If you like clever, dark fiction, with a sting in the tale, I must recommend it. To be sure, it is not for the gore hounds, although there will be death, and it is an exciting read.

It is cheaper than your coffee, will last just as long, and the two will go hand in hand when you want to snug up and be a little afraid.

Buy it from Amazon US: here, and Amazon UK: here.








Friday, 30 November 2012

The Black Caliphate: A Review

The Black Caliphate by Sean T Page is what I would call an oddity among horror shorts. Quite clearly marketed as a horror, Sean (whose other work includes the not-so-subtle 'Zombie Handbook UK') has created an eerie and haunting text, ready to envelope the reader into the world he has envisioned.

Whilst this doesn't make it the easiest (and I mean that in a pulp fiction sort of way) work to read, it is certainly satisfying.


The Black Caliphate is the tale of, well, spoiler free, the rise to power of a tyrant, with mixtures of horror and the supernatural.

It sits on sprawling landscapes using emotive description, rather than sitting on the laurels of heavy dialogue based exposition. It makes it a picturesque read. For horror, it is pretty.

One of the stand out differences between this and other shorts is that it is told over a time period, it is broken into a trilogy of time spans (each one written slightly askew to the last - in a good way - and can easily be seen as three shorter stories), and the pay off is both unexpected and worthy of the journey.

Yes this is horror.

Yes, in the third part you will be treated to a slightly more traditional 'horror' tale.

Yes, it is not what you expect.

I have to admit that I went into this blind. It far surpasses what I expected from it. For something that spans time and space in less than ten thousand words it does it, dare I say...

... remarkably.

Whilst this unique work will not be everyone's cup of tea, if you like well written, surprising and different horror - or perhaps want to read something of a more intellectual horror - then I can do nothing but recommend it.

The Black Caliphate is available on Amazon UK here, and Amazon US here.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Three Random Writing Rambles...

When you start something, make sure that you finish it. It doesn't matter how long it takes. Never give up. Don't be beaten. Be the writer. I know writers who complete everything, and I know those that complete nothing. Those that complete everything have a story to tell. Be that guy.

Don't be jealous of other people's work. Read it. Enjoy it. Learn from it. Love it. Writing is hard, we all know that, enjoy in their success as you would have them enjoy yours. Work to be better yourself.

Experiment. Try weird new things. (No, not that: writing). Stick your quill into the ink of fantasy, horror, erotica, romance, drama and comedy. How do you know if you're any good at it, until you try it. Try everything once. Twice if you like it.


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Being an Author: Relocating the Mind.

Yeah, it's back to write what you know. Maybe I should just do a month of these.

Anyway.

I live in the UK. My writing has spanned locations in the UK, US, across Europe, fictional places, real places, space stations, alien worlds, even worlds fictional inside of the story. So it's a challenge, right?

Narnia: not quite the same as London Victoria Station.
The last short that I wrote was set in London, England, in an area that I know. It was a different write for me than say the novel I'm just finishing up that is set in a fictional American town. Was it better knowing the location of my fiction, or not?

Writing about a real place: that you know.

Watch out for colloquialisms. Particularly if it's somewhere the readership is less likely to know. You know what 'a quart in a pint pot' means, right? Shillings? Of course not. Think about the readers, and what they will understand.

Don't forget that the readers won't know where you're talking about. It's really easy to forget that no one else can see what's in your mind. I can picture the school down the road. I have to watch out for all the hearses. What? Oh, yeah, that's right, I forgot you didn't know that there was a graveyard next door. Remember to explain what might seem obvious to you.

Don't concentrate on what you like. It's a shout out to 'killing your darlings' but when you are writing about a place that you actually know, it's very easy to wander off narrative to something that you want to talk about. Stick to the plot.

Writing about a real place: that you don't know.

Research. Research, research, research. You know one of the best new things for the writer who wants to write about somewhere real? Google Street View. Dang that things awesome. Whilst not being able to take in the atmosphere of the location, it allows you to be able to feel like you've walked down the sidewalk (if there is a sidewalk - but you can check). Little details that can go into your writing will help create a diorama for the characters to play in, and help to draw in the audience.

Google: is there nothing you cannot do?
But...

Try to leave out easily incorrect details. You don't know, if you've never been there, watch out for the big drops. It's all back to research, but saying that Tinpot Town, Yorkshire smelled of the roses that lined the street... well, I've been there and it don't smell like no roses I ever smelled. Sewage plant down the road...

And again with the colloquial. Don't forget that if you're in the UK you walk on the path, or pavement, not the sidewalk - we have shops called Greggs, no Walmart, and vice versa.

Writing about a fictional place: that... you... haven't...?

The easiest and the hardest all at once. Yes, no one can argue with me over the color of the sand on BeetleBrox IV, harsh desert moon of Rolo. You know, 'cause I just made it up. But then...

You have to paint a picture with broad strokes. Your 'world' becomes like trying to describe a character. Make the reader see what you see, without telling them all of it.

"The sandstorm raged on the surface of BeetleBrox IV, as over the horizon, barely visible through the light green particles of sand that danced in the air, the planet Rolo dropped in the night sky."

Oh, and get someone to read it and tell you if there's enough detail or not. 

It's the only way to be sure...

'Til next time...


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Shameless Promotion: Todd Card

It's safe to say that I haven't known Todd Card very long, only a couple of months in fact. But there is one thing that I can - and will - say about him:

Todd Card is kind of awesome.

He makes shit happen. He stands by his decisions. And to pot, he's one nice guy. He extended his hand to me in friendship on only the word of a friend of mine, Rebecca Besser. Yeah. He's that kind of awesome.

So I'm here to say this:

Todd Card: Hell Cometh
This book looks awesome, doesn't it? You want to own it, don't you? You know what? You can!

US Click here: Hell Cometh to attain this fine tome on kindle or real paper (go on, real paper smells so much better).
UK Click here: Hell Cometh to attain this fine tome on kindle.

Want to know more? Not convinced? (You should be, doubter...)

Why not follow the jump to the official website? It's full of all sorts of awesome:


Tom Savini asked Todd for an autographed copy of the book! Tom freakin' Savini!

Go. Go now. Go and buy the book! Visit the site! Buy the book, then visit the site!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Being an Author: Writing Your First Novel, Part 9

So this is it.

I'm going to get this done now. It's time to run at it and complete it.

Draft Four. The final countdown. The last words are going to go in. The last shuffle of paragraphs. One day, one day real soon, I'm going to say, "It's finished."

Tears will be shed. Wine drunk. Beer swam in.

At my current pace of work, this should take no more than... 10 days? Maybe 20. (Christ, man, stop hedging and get on with it already.)

I assume the next 'Writing Your First Novel' post will be after. When it is complete. When I'm deciding what to do with it. What my next steps are.

Or (most likely) when in a few days from now I have a complete and utter meltdown, and decide that I hate it... again.

Either way, I know that finishing it is only going to be the start. And only one of the many projects that I'm working on to be completed.

One step at a time though.

'Til next time...

Monday, 19 November 2012

Vanessa Morgan: The GPS With Benefits Blog Tour

FilingWords are proud to have a guest spot today, none other than Vanessa Morgan... 

Thank you for having me on your blog today. I'm truly honored to be here with all of you! 



How many people do you know that make jokes about their GPS device or even talk to it?

Nearly everyone, right?

GPS devices know where you are and how fast you are driving. Who says that, in the near future, they won't be able to know you look at and what you say.

These thoughts form the basis of my new release, GPS WITH BENEFITS, in which a womanizer purchases a new GPS device, not knowing that it has a mind of 'her' own.

"The inspiration for GPS WITH BENEFITS came to me when I was in the car with a friend," Vanessa says. "We made jokes about the GPS device and imagined what it would be like if the GPS was actually aware of what the driver was thinking. I immediately knew that these ideas could be turned into a hilarious story."

I won't reveal more, but GPS WITH BENEFITS has some twists and turns that you won't see coming and that will have you laughing out loud.


Your turn... What's the weirdest or funniest thing a GPS has ever done to you?

If you leave a comment on this post, you'll automatically be entered to win an Amazon Gift Card of $25.


About the author

Vanessa Morgan is known as the 'female version of Stephen King'. Her screenplays, A GOOD MAN and GPS WITH BENEFITS, are currently being turned into movies. She is also the author of the books DROWNED SORROW and THE STRANGERS OUTSIDE. If she's not working on her latest supernatural thriller, you can find her reading, watching horror movies, blogging, digging through flea markets or indulging in her unhealthy obsession to her cat. She writes in English, Dutch and French.

About her latest release, GPS WITH BENEFITS

In GPS WITH BENEFTIS, a womanizer purchases a new GPS device, not knowing it's one with a mind of 'her' own.

GPS WITH BENEFITS is available NOW at:

Amazon.com: here
Amazon.co.uk: here

Places you can cyberstalk Vanessa Morgan

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/vanessamorgan

Thanks for coming, Vanessa...

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Lonely Writer: A Habitat Special

As read by....

Sir David Attenborough
The lonely writer starts his day much the same way everyday: Sprawled naked atop a keyboard. As his slumber is broken, he tries to stretch out his weary bones, foiled once again by old age creeping in.

He growls at no one, and nothing, in particular.

He removes the latent Snickers wrapper from his face.

The first port of call of the Lonely Writer, as with all other species, is sustenance. He pads naked throughout his territory, scared and confused by the early morning sunlight, in search of his primordial desire: Coffee.

At first confused by the complex machinery required to complete the task at hand, the Lonely Writer soon grunts in pleasure after pushing the right button to start the 'coffee maker'. Sometimes this is instinct, sometimes luck.

Realizing his cold nakedness, he stumbles to another part of his territory in search of warmth, ascertaining the suitability of which animal hide to wear, by smell.
The complex 'coffee maker'

Having adorned the animal hides least likely to attract attention, the Lonely Writer can now settle for his coffee, indicated as ready by the sound emitted from the machine and the smell, which his nose is tuned specifically to.

The Lonely Writer forgoes food most mornings, ready to fight hunger until food presents itself later in the day.

***

Signaled by the sun being at it's highest point in the sky, the Lonely Writer takes the time to pursue food. Being a hunter by nature, his first thought must be: how much change has he secreted away in his animal hides?

The Lesser Gas Station Sandwich
On a good day, the hides bring forth a bounty of monies exchangeable for goods. The Lonely Writer stalks the cafe, summoning a hot meal and further coffee from another less erratic species, 'The Server'. After consumption of a meal like this the Lonely Writer will feel warm and satisfied, his belly full and his mind now active having wasted much of the morning.

On days when everything seems to be in the face of the Lonely Writer the animal hides produce only enough wealth to purchase the 'lesser gas station sandwich', which even the Lonely Writer knows is potentially poisonous, and should only be consumed in desperate times. These are desperate times.

***
As day rolls into dusk, the Lonely Writer returns to his own territory, tired after the tribulations of having to deal with 'other people' during the daylight hours, ready once again to slump to the keyboard and begin the endless work. He removes the socially acceptable hides of the day, and returns to the computer.

At the keyboard he will consume vast quantities of coffee, chocolate, and chocolate milkshakes, until it is time to feed, where he will go in search of frozen food stored in abundance. Having selected the least undesirable 'microwave meal', the Lonely Writer will consume his meal back at the keyboard, now partaking in the ritualistic bottle of wine.

As the Lonely Writer becomes tired, he slips into a deep coma like sleep, taking comfort in the warmth of the Snickers wrappers that surround him and the gentle hum of the computer...


Friday, 9 November 2012

10 Reasons Why... it's awesome being a writer.

We can do anything we want. 

Yeah, okay, not literally, but in our world we can. What's your hobby? Stamp collecting. Awesome. Me? I control a apocalyptic army of small furry animals. Yeah, they treat me like a god, do as I command. Pretty much taking over the world.

We are many, for I am legion.

Writers know writers. They say that writing is a lonely task. We are pictured hunched over a desk, quill in hand, a bead of sweat rolling slowly down, ready to commit itself to the fall onto the manuscript. Yeah. No. I go down the local ale house on occasion (Me? A drunk?) and I've been known to sit between a novelist and a poet. Both successful, both quite charming people. We share stories. Then a drunken Irishman might come over, and we will regale him with tales of international bravery and espionage, only because he knows no better and we can wing it. But the thing is, we gather. We gather in groups. If you're not a writer, better watch over your shoulder. Next time you think it's a stag party reeling drunk down down the street, it might just be some of us. And we're more dangerous.  

We've got something to think about.

I've seen non-writers (Non-ites?) sitting at the bus stop. They stare vacant into space. You can (if you are a writer) picture what they might be thinking about. Last night's tortilla flavoring? Tomorrow night's soap opera? The X-Factor (shudder)? I've seen the writers sitting at the bus stop. They're the ones either a) writing on a pad with a pencil/crayon (we take anything we can get - I've even made notes in blood) or b) giggling. Giggling like they're on a PCP high. But not.

We're more likely to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Yeah? You're gonna survive because of something you saw in a movie? I wrote a detailed piece, something close to a dissertation, on killing zombies using only a 'mint-in-box' William Riker plushie. Without damaging it. Stand behind me. I got this. 

At some point, somewhere, we get paid to make shit up.

And not have to justify it under oath later. Think about it.

Our art will out live us.

That's right. We are immortal. Occasionally there will be competitions in which gangs of us try to cut each others heads off, just to prove that there can be only one, but our work lives on. We will be remembered as the few, by the many. (And we can be used to stable a wobbly table).

The object of your heart-bound desire immediately thinks you're deep.

Well, unless you only write horror. Then replace 'deep' for 'cool' or worst case scenario 'creepy'. But either way, announce you're a writer and people are suddenly interested. You are suddenly interesting. 'Have you been published?' they'll say. 'Get away from me, I don't know you!' you'll say.

You can hide in the under-belly (undergrowth?).

Everyone knows who everyone is these days. Try not getting tagged in some damned photo on Facebook. Try being in a film. Try being on To Catch a Predator. Everyone knows who everyone is, and, everyone know what everyone looks like. Unless you're an author. If you don't want to be seen. Found. Stephen King has a net worth greater than some of the most famous faces in Hollywood. Which one can buy a milkshake?

Someone, somewhere, likes what we do.

Unlike so many other forms of entertainment, if you want to create a literary work of art, someone will want to read it - no - someone will want to know why it wasn't written before because it is un-be-freakin-lievably good. Even small furry animal army violence. Yeah. Even that.

Just because.

Why is writing awesome? As mom used to say: Because. One day I'm slicing and dicing a vampire army with a sword crafted from the toe-nail clippings of a god, the next I own a small shop that moves about magically at night to where the market is best tomorrow. I sit at my desk crafting worlds and beings, people people want to meet, and people people want to be. 
I can fly like Superman. 
I have the strength of Hercules.
I have the mind of Einstein.

I am a writer.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Being an Author: A Pie to the Face.

I'm having a break. I'm writing a short. As of yet I don't know where I will attempt to place this short, but I know it is too long for one collection I'm working on and too supernatural for another. So I'm probably going to try to find a market for it outside of my current projects.

It's horror. Of course. But whilst writing it I found that I was sliding some of my own (ahem) humor, into it. I have an odd sense of humor.

Oh.

I'm writing a comedy. With horror. Comedy and horror. The old horror/comedy.

AAaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!

I don't know how to do that. I really don't know how to do that. I can even count on the fingers of one hand the number of horror/comedy tales I've read.



Sure, I've seen horror/comedy...

 ... but write it?



So you know what I did? Research.

First I got this. It's a genre specific set of tips written by the writers of Zombieland, Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick. It's an interesting read, you glean good info from it, but it is aimed much more at the visual medium.

Then I ended up at WikiHow.  I won't share the link with you. I got the impression that the good people there may have missed the point.

Hm. Unless I want to write a screenplay or a parody my research has come up with little worthy of note. So. Here goes. If you can't find the answer... make one up.

Filing Words tips on writing a horror comedy:

Show, don't tell

A great deal of comedy is visual. This applies just as much to writing a tale as a screenplay. You must however remember to show it. Think of it as a kill. You show the kill, right? The knife sliding in? Show the joke, the slapstick. Let the reader picture it in their minds eye.

If you're going to parody, parody. If you're not, don't.

The worst thing for me as a reader is seeing something in a book that makes me go, 'Where have I seen that before?' Sure, in parody you expect it. Try to ensure that your comedy is as new as your horror. The temptation to mimic a scene from Zombieland might be great, but unless you are parodying (don't parody a comedy) it, then don't.

Subtlty

Comedy works when you don't expect it. That is one of the things that makes slapstick great (that and people hurting themselves - now that's comedy!). Try not to tell jokes. There aren't any jokes in Shaun of the Dead, are there? Not straight out jokes. It's just funny to see how people react to certain situations, funnily.

Try to be broad

You're going to need to show people your work. I think someone is funny. Say, Russell Howard. Other people can't stand him. Does that make him less funny? To me, no. But if he was trying to appeal to a different audience, then he needs to appeal to that audience. The comedy has to appeal to the existing horror audience. No one will read horror, just for the comedy. And people will write a bad review if the comedy doesn't work in their horror story because yes, once the reader is invested, the story becomes theirs. Ain't no one gonna let you foo up their story with your lousy jokes.

'Til next time...

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Bella Harte: The Scarlett Phoenix Blog Tour

Filingwords are proud to have with us today author Bella Harte promoting the launch of her novel, 'Scarlett Phoenix', the first book in The Seraphoenix Saga.

We also managed to get a few words with her...

About the Book:

Scarlett Phoenix is the jumping off point for this exciting new YA PNR series.

"She is the only one of her kind, he is her last hope"

Scarlett Paige is just a regular teenager until her parents suddenly decide move to back to America. Finding herself thrust into a new school, a new town and a whole new way of life, things can't seem get any worse until her 18th birthday arrives. Her world as she knows it, is irrevocably changed by a whole new set of life threatening complications.

Two brothers, one to save her and one to kill her, who will win?

A terrible plan to rid the world of humanity is revealed and she is caught smack in the middle of it.

Scarlett finds herself amidst a battle that’s been waged since the beginning of time; with beings she never knew existed and hideous creatures she wished that didn’t. Thrown into total chaos, as she is plunged into an entirely different future and one that is utterly unexpected, with dire consequences she never saw coming.

To find out more about the first book in The Seraphoenix Saga, see the buy links below.

Buy Links:



About the Author:

Bella Harte has been writing for well over a decade, and completed several novels before deciding to go
in a whole new direction and write for the Young Adult genre. More specifically the YA PNR – Young Adult
Paranormal Romance category.

Her first published YA Novel is ‘Scarlett Phoenix’ - Book I in The Seraphoenix Saga, with Book II:- ‘Crimson Fire’
being schedule for release in early 2013 and Book III:- ‘Red Ashes’ for later in the year.

She has also been working on two other YA PNR series:

The Angel of Death Series

Book I – Reaper
Book II – Touched
Book III – Afterlife

Nine Lives Series

Book I – The Glaring
Book II – Midnight Calling
Book III - Hunters Moon

Aside from writing, Bella has been worked as a fashion designer, interior designer, artist and currently she is
figuring out ways to best market her novels. She attended Business College after leaving school, followed by
Art College, where she studied:- ceramics, fashion design, pattern cutting, textiles and art.

She lives in a quiet part of the East Midlands in England with her husband, and worked for a World-Wide
Export Company for several years, which enabled her to travel to far off places around the globe and enjoy a wide and varied cross section of cultures.

Bella says of the future: No one can predict what’s around the corner, but the journey will be a fascinating one to say the least, and I always expect the unexpected!

  

And in interview...

FW: Firstly, could you tell us a little about yourself?

BH: I’m an author of YA PNR Novels and have been writing for as long as I can remember.  I’m a total Post-it Note addict and have them in every colour, shape and size - they are the perfect tool for scribbling notes on!  I’m an avid reader and have been known to fill my suitcase with books when I go on holiday - as a book a day keeps the boredom away.  All I can say is: Thank goodness for my Kindle, my suitcase never exceeds the maximum baggage allowance anymore!   Apart from writing, I enjoy a wide selection of artistic pursuits, such as: painting – furniture restoration – interior design – photography – and many more.  

FW: What inspires you to write?

BH: I’m inspired by life.  Sometimes it’s tough, sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s sad, sometimes it’s glorious and others it’s detestable.  No two days are the same, there’s is something to be found in every situation that has the potential to spark the beginning of a new story or provide a solution to one I’m already working on.  

FW: How much do you write?

BH: Lots and lots.  Not only my novels, but blogging and everything else that technology allows us to do.  Everyday I'm writing something for somewhere or someone and then for myself too.  So I spend many hours a day at the keyboard.

FW: With such a number of novels written, can you offer up any advice for new authors?

BH: I’m no expert, but my advice would be: keep writing, no matter how bad you think it is, just do it.  You’ll never get any better if you don’t hone your craft. Join writers groups, talk with other authors, read every book you can about writing (there’s shelves of them at the library). If you really want to write, then you will, it’s really that simple.  There’s one thing that is very necessary as a new writer and that is: edit, edit, and then edit some more.  Even when you think you’ve finished editing, you’ll find that actually you haven’t. 

FW: If you could meet anyone - dead or alive - who would it be?

BH: If I could meet anyone,  and have total guarantee of my safety I would like to go back in time and meet Boadicea (or Boudicca).  She was one seriously fierce fighting lady.  I think that she would have been terrifying in her chariot when she led the uprising against the Romans in 60AD and just image all the nitty gritty that never made into the history books. Now that would be some juicy stuff, the stuff that fantastical stories are made of!

FW: Your favorite book?

BH: My all time favourite novel is ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams.  His humour is sublime, I just love all his novels.  He was a truly great writer.

FW: What are you reading at the moment?

BH: At the moment I am reading: ‘Airel’ (The Airel Saga, Book 1) by Aaron Patterson and Chris White.  It's an excellent novel, I’m 2/3rds of the way through and I’ve just seen that there’s a sequel called ‘Michael’ which I’ll be getting as soon as I’ve finished the first one.

And there's also a giveaway...

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, 29 October 2012

Schrodinger's Horror

Welcome to the experiment.

Some of you will be in no doubt of what Schrodinger's Cat is. That is not what I am here to discuss. I will briefly summarize it, but if you would like to know about his experiment please visit the wiki page on it here.

For the purpose of this post I wish to try to relay a very small part of the Schrodinger's Cat Thought Experiment and show you how perception of horror can be changed. How you can make your audience feel things in new ways.

It started when I was reading about the Schrodinger experiment. The premise (put extremely simply) is that a cat is placed and sealed in a box with a device which has a random chance of killing the cat. This means that the cat can be thought of as both dead and alive because it is unobserved. Then I started thinking about the box. The thought of opening it to find Mr. Tiddles bounding into your arms, wondering why you'd locked him in a box, or, a dead cat. The ex Mr. Tiddles.

That moment.

That moment right there, before you open the box, is where you feel horror.

So now, I ask that you step into that moment. I'm going to ask you to commit. To join with me in an experiment.

Below is a video. It is a video that contains footage of a real life accident. (Nothing illegal for me to show, I assure you.) But in order for me to relay the feelings that I wish to, I'm going to ask you now to either stop reading, or commit yourself to watching the video.

If you are not going to watch the video, the feelings are flawed and the experiment a failure.

If you are still here then you have decided to watch the video and I will continue.

The video below is an excerpt of footage filmed as part of a German Car Advertisement. During the filming (on the footage below) one member of the film crew is struck by the car, clearly on camera. He was hurt - quite badly - but not fatally.

You are going to watch that footage. You have already committed to doing this.

How do you feel? Are you nervous? Scared? Butterflies?

The choice now removed, you will feel some attraction towards the video. It's now falling into the 'forbidden fruit' territory. I have taken away your right to say no. You can say it was my fault. 

Tell me, are you a little excited? My stomach twists with excitement being in control like this.

The way you feel being the audience of horror is like this, but this is heightened. You are going to do something closer to real than being the audience of fiction.

You are now the audience of fact.

The feelings that you are experiencing now are part of the apprehension of horror. You are going to do something that you know you shouldn't. You feel aroused by the fact that your choice has been taken away. You have to do it. You have no choice.

Do it.

Play the video:


Now do you understand?

Do you know where you have to take your readers in order to show them the horror?

Do you feel different?

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Being an Author: Reflections...

So I'm in the middle of stuff. I mean, loadsastuff. I've got half written collections, new collections, collections waiting to be published. Shorts waiting editing, shorts out on tout. Novel in editing. Novel half written.


Most of the time I just plug at it. Chip away. Sob. Drink.

But I have reflected.

Not so long ago I was writing for anthologies. Solely. I would write for specific calls and then submit. I think I did well.

Wow. That was a buzz. Sending off two, three, five shorts a week - and the flash - and then waiting. The biting of nails. The wailing. The gnashing of teeth.

The rejections.
The acceptances.

I don't get that now. Not really. I've got some stuff out, but at the moment, and through most of this year I've been working on things that take time. When I started writing these things that take time, I was of the opinion that it was going to be easy, you know, three novels in the first year, couple of collections...

... well life's not like that. Sometimes it gets in the way. And then... oh yes... and then writing a novel isn't the end of it. 'Bout to start the next draft.

Day after day passes...
Week after week...
Month after month...

You know what? I miss the buzz.

Just sometimes. And I look at my collection of unfinished collections, novels and collaborations, and say, 'No. Finish what you have begun first. Take time to find the buzz later.'

Am I right?

Any writer that moves from shorts to novels must feel it. I can't be alone. Can I?

'Til next time...

PS: Wanna play a game?

The upcoming post 'Schrodinger's Horror' is a participation event. Monday coming. Be a part of the experiment. Here.  

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Dark Thoughts: A Review

I have to admit that I had never read any of Martin Reaves work before this. That is something that I wish now to remedy.

Dark Thoughts is a collection of shorts (I suppose you could say Dark Fantasy but I prefer Horror), that makes your skin crawl.

Like, really crawl.

The stories are not horrible. That much I must make clear and that I don't mean horrible to be icky.

This is not a collection of blood soaked monstrocities for the gore hound.

Some of these will make you not want to finish them for fear of what might happen. I don't honestly know how Martin emotes his characters in the way that he does.

In shorts, some no more wordy than flash fiction, Martin is piling on the raw emotion of the characters in sad, horrible and blood curling situations.

Some of the tales leave you shuddering in the dark saying 'Thank God, this isn't happening to me', and others leave a lump in your throat saying, 'Thank God, this isn't happening to me'.

Whichever type you're reading, it's a roller coaster.

You can get Dark Thoughts on Amazon US Paper Back and on Kindle Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Go and buy it. You'll thank me.


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Earth's End: A Review

Earth's End is an apocalyptic collection of shorts edited by Rebecca Besser, published by our friends at Wicked East Press.

So after my last review where I skewed off into a whole different genre, what was it like slipping back to the comfort of a bit of dark fantasy, a bit of sci fi, a bit of horror?

Interesting.

Firstly, it would be remiss of me not to mention the editing of the book. Whilst I would not normally mention the editor personally in a review, it has to be said that Rebecca Besser has done a stand out job. With small press publications, I have seen many people bashing the editor for not doing a good job - for making mistakes - but never do I see anyone congratulating the editor on a fine job. And this is a fine job. But enough back-slapping of editors. Onto the content.

The anthology contains work by authors: Kris Triana, Suzanne Robb, Mark M. Johnson, Nicky Peacock, Pedro Cerda & Daniel Stiles, Rebecca Besser, Darren Gallagher and Kim Curley (novella).

The stories are good. They are well told and convey largely what they are supposed to. The only issue I had was that two of the stories just needed... more story. As my complaint is that I wanted more, is that really a complaint? It is also not that the two stories were rushed, or incomplete. I just wanted to play in the worlds created for me, more.  This is my only note-worthy gripe and it is extremely personal. Most people I'm sure would disagree.

Ranging from (and being vague because I don't do spoilers) religious overtones (as one expects in apocalyptic tales) to monsters crawling around the wasteland, the collection has something for everyone who is a fan of the genres. It is also worth saying that the collection works extremely well together. Jumps from character hard pieces to science fiction and then action horror can be jarring and a tough sell. This collection works. 

As I said, it is well edited, so it flows fault free, the authors clearly know their aims in story-telling and how to work their genre and the requirements of making a world that you cannot see believable, particularly in such short word counts.

For me the stand out story was 'Hell on Earth' by Darren Gallagher. It is action heavy, reliant on Darren's ability to draw a scene quickly with a great deal of movement. Certainly a hard sell in a short story. It is done extremely competently. Not only does Darren move from locale to locale taking just enough time to paint the picture - but not too much - he also sells the characters and slips in a twist. It is a shock, as well.

If you are a fan of dark fiction, fantasy, sci fi or horror, or just well told stories, go and buy it. Buy it now. It is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.